May pagkain kahit baha: Urban gardens rise in Tumana

When Jimmy Ceguerra was elected kagawad of Brgy. Tumana in Marikina City in 2010, he was shocked to discover just how malnourished the children in his locality were. A survey of elementary students revealed that 13 percent of them were either underweight or severely underweight, pointing to problems with their food intake. 

Marikina children | source:

Then Chair of the local health committee, Ceguerra searched for ways to improve his constituents’ access to nutritious food. And the solution he found was urban gardening.

Kagawad Jimmy Ceguerra | source: PTV

Cities like Marikina are relatively congested, which is why Ceguerra promotes urban container vertical gardening
, in particular. Discarded PET bottles or even jeans that no longer fit can be used as a bed for a bit of soil. As for fertilizer, you can head to the wet market and get a kilo of fish gills, which are usually just thrown away. Combine this with a kilo of crude sugar, let the mixture ferment for twenty days, and you have a nutrient-packed concoction to water your soil with.

Ceguerra partners with the Department of Agriculture to source seeds for his barangay, and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to source seedlings that are ready to be transplanted. With these ingredients, his neighbors are able to grow pechay, mustasa, patola, okra, upo, sitaw, sili, eggplants, tomatoes, and lettuce right from their terrace or rooftop.

Urban Gardening in Tumana

The official himself has eleven varieties of vegetables in his urban garden. “Dumating kami doon sa point na sobra na eh, even kahit baha, hindi kami nag-e-evacuate. ‘Yung pamilya ko, sa aking terrace, dun namin kinukuha ‘yung kakainin habang may baha,” he says.

During trainings, he tells his constituents that if they have ten one-foot high containers of okra and they start to flower, they can harvest two to three pieces of okra every day. Three to four pieces of okra cost ten pesos in the market, and growing your own lets you save that much money every day. What more if you have more plants in your urban garden?

Ceguerra also encourages them to barter with their neighbors if they have more harvest than they can (or want to) eat.

Urban Gardening training in Tumana

“Merong pangangailangan tayo dun sa food security,” he stresses. “Kinakailangan talaga natin kahit dito sa Metro Manila, we produce our own food. Totoong hindi natin mapo-produce ‘yung pang-araw-araw na kakainin through that, but then makakabawas ito doon sa ating gastos… Makakatiyak tayo na ang kinakain natin for that moment ay malinis kasi we produce that… Makakatulong din ito sa environment natin kasi kung halos lahat ng kabahayan ay mayroong tanim, this is one way of climate change mitigation because it will cool the area.”

He hopes his fellow barangay officials will advocate for urban gardening in their own neighborhoods, too.

Kagawad Jimmy Ceguerra

Watch his recent interview on PTV4’s Damayan Ngayon below:

  • Mely dela Cruz
    Posted at 05:36h, 09 September Reply

    Mabuhay po kayo!! Sana ay maging malaganap ang urban gardening sa lahat ng siyudad ng bansa!

  • Suzy Mendoza
    Posted at 06:13h, 09 September Reply

    Thumbs up!

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